State Integrity Investigation

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Bill would force Louisiana political candidates to take ethics training

Any candidate running for the Louisiana Legislature or for statewide office should complete ethics training, says Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette.The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved Bishop’s House Bill 365 and sent it to the full Senate for final approval.

Filed under louisiana ethics transparency stuart bishop state government corruptionrisk corruption politics

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Georgia Gov. Deal signs new records law

State integrity news for Georgia, from the Athens Banner-Herald:

Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping overhaul of the state’s open-records rules, touting the measure as among several legislative successes from this year’s General Assembly session.

The measure, which takes effect July 1, reduces the cost of obtaining public documents and stiffens penalties for illegally withholding public information. But it narrows the period of time when the public can scrutinize university president candidates.

Read the rest of the story at the Athens-Banner Herald.

Filed under georgia governor deal nathan deal athens change progress reform corruptionrisk public radio international center for public integrity finally open records rules reduce cost transparency state government

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"The state level is very important": CPI’s Bill Buzenberg on C-SPAN [VIDEO]

Bill Buzenberg appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” Monday morning to talk about the inspiration for the State Integrity Investigation and the project’s findings. The Center for Public Integrity's Executive Director spoke at length with host John McArdle about the investigation, answering questions about why New Jersey ranked first, why Georgia ranked last, and why CPI, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International got involved with the investigation in the first place.

“The work is very serious,” Buzenberg said. “Those who have looked at it recognize how detailed it is, and how it will last a long time. This is going to have a very long shelf life.”

Buzenberg pointed out that the State Integrity Investigation had already been cited as evidence in reform efforts in five different states.

Buzenberg also took questions from callers, many of whom had the same question: “How did my state do?”

One caller from St. Louis, Missouri rang in to congratulate Buzenberg and decry the often unnoticed power lobbying groups wield in state government.

"I really don’t think that people truly understand the influence that — moreso, that their local governments and their state governments have on their lives, rather than the federal," she said. "So many reporters report on the federal government…there’s so much being slipped through with state governments, it’s amazing."

Buzenberg echoed the woman’s concerns, saying the leverage special interests have within state governments is a major concern, particularly with a weakened local press to keep tabs on the flow of power and influence.

"Lobbyists understand," Buzenberg said, "that they can move into 30-some states, help change the laws in those states, and they could effectively change the laws in the whole country. So, the state level is very important. We’re seeing less watchdog work at the state level — that was the real reason and impetus for this."

Buzenberg’s appearance on “Washington Journal” can be seen in its entirety.

Filed under corruption State Government global integrity public radio international PRI Bill Buzenberg C-SPAN CSPAN huffington post politico poynter sunshine laws sunlight foundation

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Bill Buzenberg appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” Monday morning to talk about the inspiration for the State Integrity Investigation and the project’s findings. The Center for Public Integrity's Executive Director spoke at length with host John McArdle about the investigation, answering questions about why New Jersey ranked first, why Georgia ranked last, and why CPI, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International got involved with the investigation in the first place.

“The work is very serious,” Buzenberg said. “Those who have looked at it recognize how detailed it is, and how it will last a long time. This is going to have a very long shelf life.”

Buzenberg pointed out that the State Integrity Investigation had already been cited as evidence in reform efforts in five different states.

Buzenberg also took questions from callers, many of whom had the same question: “How did my state do?”

One caller from St. Louis, Missouri rang in to congratulate Buzenberg and decry the often unnoticed power lobbying groups wield in state government.

"I really don’t think that people truly understand the influence that — moreso, that their local governments and their state governments have on their lives, rather than the federal," she said. "So many reporters report on the federal government…there’s so much being slipped through with state governments, it’s amazing."

Buzenberg echoed the woman’s concerns, saying the leverage special interests have within state governments is a major concern, particularly with a weakened local press to keep tabs on the flow of power and influence.

"Lobbyists understand," Buzenberg said, "that they can move into 30-some states, help change the laws in those states, and they could effectively change the laws in the whole country. So, the state level is very important. We’re seeing less watchdog work at the state level — that was the real reason and impetus for this."

Filed under State Government Integrity Corruption C-Span center for public integrity reform corruptionrisk local government discussion video politics

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Maine Governor, House Majority Leader push for reform after “F” grade

Conservative Gov. Paul LePage and his liberal counterparts in the Maine state legislature disagree on many issues, but the two sides have found common ground: An ‘F’ on Maine’s report card is unacceptable. 

LePage, an outspoken Republican in his first term, is encouraging a piece of legislation that would expose state officials’ conflicts of interest and decrease the chances for legislators to line their own pockets with taxpayer money. Gov. LePage said this is the kind of reform that Maine needs to enact to improve the failing grade Maine recieved on its Corruption Risk Report Card.

On the legislative side, House Minority Leader Emily Cain, (D-Orono), said the report card raises substantive issues, and might inspire a bipartisan task force to review the findings and suggest changes going into the next legislative session.

The reform-minded responses are an encouraging sign for a state with nine ‘F’s and two ‘D’s out of the 14 categories under review in the State Integrity Investigation.

In the current session, LePage has already introduced LD 1806, a bill that would require public disclosure from state legislators, constitutional officers and executive branch members if the official or the official’s family member has an ownership or management-level position in a company that receives more than $10,000 from the state.

The proposed increase in transparency would set Maine on a path to an improved grade on its Corruption Risk Report Card, LePage told the Bangor Daily News:

"This is the direction we need to move in to improve Maine’s grade. It’s clear that many states struggle with this issue. However, it is an issue that I will continue to work on improving on behalf of the Maine taxpayer."

Cain floated the idea of a task force to review the problems highlighted in Maine’s failing grade, saying the group would “focus on feedback from the public and experts.”

A spokeswoman for Cain said the House Minority Leader was taking the idea to other leaders in the legislature to gain approval, in the hopes that the group could make suggestions before the legislature reconvenes in 2013. The spokeswoman said the task force would not look into “any one specific point from the report, but potentially use the report as a jumping-off point.”

With the statements from LePage and Cain, Maine becomes the fifth state to use State Integrity Investigation findings to support reform proposals, joining DelawareMichiganOhio and South Carolina.

If you live in Maine and want to encourage your state legislators and Gov. LePage to enact reforms, click here to send the Maine Corruption Risk Report Card and a personalized message to your elected officials. Keep track of this and other movements toward more open, accountable state government onour Reform Efforts page.

Filed under Maine State Government Corruptionrisk Corruption Compromise Bipartisan Paul LePage Republican State Integrity